Middlesbrough extended their unbeaten run to eight games with a 1-1 draw at Deepdale against a Preston North End side boasting a similar impressive record of nine games without defeat.
Goals from Preston’s Alan Browne and Middlesbrough’s Marcus Tavernier meant the points were shared in an entertaining game, with Boro dropping out of the automatic promotion places into third, and Preston stay in 15th.
Here are three things to take from Middlesbrough’s draw at Deepdale:
1. Tony Pulis got it tactically wrong
Pulis was first to admit in his post-match press conference that he had got his gameplan all wrong, and it was evident from the off. Middlesbrough struggled to create chances and Preston dominated proceedings from the first whistle until the tactics were changed at the interval.
The lack of creativity in the side was apparent, with Pulis leaving out Muhamed Besic and Stewart Downing entirely from the matchday squad. Equally, the lack of pace was another issue, with the game swinging in Middlesbrough’s favour only with the introduction of Marcus Tavernier and Martin Braithwaite from the bench.
2. Tavernier has to start
Tavernier has two goals and two assists in nine games so far this season, and added to his tally against Preston with a very well taken goal.
His pace and trickery is something different for Middlesbrough, and his direct running gives another dimension than Braithwaite and Downing.
3. Worrying Boro injury news
Striker Rudy Gestede has been plagued with injuries since joining the club, and again sustained a hamstring injury in the game against Preston. Although not a regular starter, when he is fit he is in and around the first team, and his selection ahead of Assombalonga spoke volumes.
Another blow was Lewis Wing, who came off just after the break after feeling unwell. However, he could be fit and ready to feature against Villa at the weekend.